Elisenheim Road Works Stopped

THE City of Windhoek has stopped upgrading the TransNamib service road that will serve as an access to Elisenheim township following some environmental concerns.

Some of the concerns stem from an incomplete environmental impact assessment on the surrounding woodland and the ecosystem.

The road belongs to Windhoek municipality, but the construction is being done by the Elisenheim Property Development Company (EPDC), which said “a permit was issued by the Municipality of Windhoek”.

This comes after dozens of trees – Camelthorn and Buffalo thorn trees – that are protected under the Forestry Act, were bulldozed to make way for the four-lane access road.

An environment manager in the City of Windhoek, Friedrich Koujo, said the project was stopped “until the necessary legal requirements are in place”.

Koujo could neither elaborate on the number of trees already removed, nor specify which legal requirements are not in place.

The City was, however, authorised to remove about 100 trees which allegedly consist of protected tree species, notably Camelthorn trees with an average age of 200 years.

Several concerned parties though allege that an environmental impact assessment was never conducted and that a clearance certificate issued in January 2013 by the Office of the Environmental Commissioner in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism does not cover an impact study.

A biodiversity expert recently said the Camelthorn trees thicket along the proposed access road is one of the most concentrated woodlands in Namibia, marking it as an important ecological asset to the country.

The Elisenheim Bulk Infrastructure report was limited to the waste water treatment plant, water reservoir and bulk electricity lines.

Trustco Group Holdings Limited, the sole shareholder in the EPDC, last week said the previous owners did an environmental impact study and the report “clearly included the access road”.

Bob Kandetu, Trustco head of group communications, told The Namibian that the access road is a “proclaimed road (Nr DR 1473) and an EIA was in any event never required”.

Kandetu said “this road does not belong to the EPDC or the Elisenheim development.

This road is a municipal road and under the City’s jurisdiction” and that the EPDC “is improving the road to a level acceptable to the City of Windhoek and to the convenience of Elisenheim and Brakwater residents,” he said

With this new alignment, only 58 of the 101 trees will be removed” and “as per the proposal of EPDC, 300 new indigenous trees will be replanted along the access road,” Kandetu said.

Source : The Namibian